The Brookings Institute MetroMonitor has been tracking the best (and worst) places to live during the recession based on unemployment rates, industry recovery, and the local housing market. And the research says: If you want a recession-proof city, check out the Midwest.
Omaha topped the list as the most recession-proof city because of its 5.5 percent unemployment rate, compared to the national average of 9.6 percent and the lowest change in unemployment in the past three years.
Other Midwest locales that round out the top 20 list for most recession-proof cities include Madison, Wis., Oklahoma City, and Kansas City, Mo., which made the list because its gross metropolitan product not only recovered, but jumped 2.6 percent from where it was before the recession. The secret to the Midwest's success is manufacturing jobs, which have been steadily recovering over the past year.
On the other end of the spectrum, are the 20 cities that are the 20 least recession-proof. Las Vegas continues to top the list of least recession-proof cities with a whopping 14.6 percent unemployment rate and little recovery in sight. (In June, 2007, Las Vegas' unemployment rate was "just" 9.9 percent)
The study results found that coastal living might have better weather than the Midwest, but it's not particularly recession-proof: California and Florida cities topped the worst list because of their faltering housing markets. Home prices in many communities have dropped as much as 55 percent.
Unemployment numbers aren't much better on the east or west coasts. Miami alone has experience a 11.7 percent unemployment rate (more than 7 percent lower than 2007). Add that to a 44.9 percent drop in home prices and the cast of Jersey Shore in town during haiitus, and Miami may not be the place for you to hide out during the recession. (But you can sure get a great real estate deal.)
So if you are looking for a nice, recession-proof city in which to settle down, look no further than the Midwest. Midwest cities are showing their strengths, including an increase in industry, somewhat of a recovery in the housing markets (or at least finding a bumpy bottom), and- as always- plenty of corn.
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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.